15 October 2009
Marine's widow given support for her change from American visa to residency
The Japanese widow and baby of an marine killed in Iraq have been given new support this week in their application to move from an American visa to American residency.
A new bill was introduced Tuesday in the US Senate to allow Hotaru Ferschke and the son of Sargent Michael H. Ferschke Junior to remain in the US and change from an American visa to residency.
The US Congress is now considering at least two bills that could stop the US government from sending the widow and her child back to Japan in January.
Mrs Ferschke says it was her husband’s wish that their child be raised as an American, but the State Department refuses to recognize the couple 2008 marriage because it was never consummated, although they have a child together.
The couple were married in July 2008 after the pair found out they were pregnant with their first child.
Michael Ferschke, 22, married his wife by telephone during a deployment to Iraq and was killed a month later.
His wife and son moved from Okinawa, where Ferschke was originally based, in February to live with Ferschke’s family in Tennessee, but without recognition of the marriage they face being sent back to Japan when their one-year American visa expires.
The US Immigration and Nationality Act requires consummation between US citizens and foreign national spouses, a requirement to prevent fraud, but the move by Congress might allow Mrs Ferschke to stay.
The bill introduced by sponsor, Senator Jim Webb upholds "the promises we make to those who step forward and place their lives on the line in order to carry out the policies that we create," Webb said.
The legislation will have no effect on broader immigration policies, according to Webb’s office, but will instead recognise the Ferschkes’ "lawful marriage" and "right a wrong for a Marine’s family who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country."
The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in American visa and immigration services.